Whether you’re planning your next trip into the wilderness or just looking for a bit of escapism from the comfort of your own home, an adventure book is the perfect choice. There’s nothing like learning about awe-inspiring locations from people who have been there and experienced them personally.


To help you find the best adventure books on offer right now, we’ve listed our favourite titles. They’re all non-fiction; real people recounting real experiences. You’ll also find fun books for kids below – perfect for inspiring youngsters to get out in the natural world.

The best adventure books

Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson

Notes From a Small Island: Journey Through Britain - Bill Bryson on a blue background

Mention adventure books or travel writing and the name Bill Bryson is bound to crop up in conversation. He wrote his famous book ‘Notes From a Small Island’, back in 1995, but it’s still much-loved by readers today. In fact, it has sold more than two million copies.

The book recounts the trip Bill Bryson took around the UK before moving back to the US from North Yorkshire. On his travels, he explores the public and more private elements of Great Britain, and what makes it the island it has become. Expect plenty of laughs in this laid-back look at the UK.

Wild Nights: Camping Britain’s Extremes - Phoebe Smith

Wild Nights: Camping Britain’s Extremes - Phoebe Smith on a blue background

Finding the ultimate camping spot is the goal in this popular adventure book by Phoebe Smith. The wild camper recounts her experiences in some of the UK’s most extreme locations, as well as the harsh weather conditions there. She faces whiteouts in Wales and gale-force winds atop Britain’s tallest mountain Ben Nevis, to name a couple.

This isn’t the first time Phoebe Smith has ventured out into the wilds; her book ‘Extreme Sleeps’ saw her setting up camp in a number of inhospitable places, like caves. She has also written for publications like The Guardian, so it’s worth digging out some of her other work if you enjoy ‘Wild Nights’.

The Living Mountain - Nan Shepherd

The Living Mountain - Nan Shepherd on a blue background

Nan Shepherd wrote ‘The Living Mountain’ during the Second World War, but it wasn’t published until more than three decades later.

Standing in contrast to the many adventure books written by men, this unique literary work is a woman’s take on the natural world. Rather than focussing on reaching a set goal, it celebrates the rugged countryside Shepherd encountered on her many expeditions into the Scottish Cairngorms.

In this adventure book, Shepherd recounts the beauty and severity of the natural world, and analyses everything from rocks and rivers to the creatures calling the Cairngorms home.

The Wild Places - Robert Macfarlane

The Wild Places - Robert Macfarlane on a blue background

As urban areas seem to stretch further and further out into the natural world, Robert Macfarlane asks whether there are any truly wild spaces left in Britain and Ireland. He’s on the search for wilderness in this inspiring adventure book.

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The book is split into chapters based on environments, like ‘Island’, ‘Moor’ and ‘Saltmarsh’, and describes Macfarlane’s quest to find the wilderness there.

The author’s evocative descriptions are the highlights of this popular adventure book, which makes it the perfect choice if you’re looking for a bit of escapism.

Coasting: Running Around the Coast of Britain - Elise Downing

Coasting: Running Around the Coast of Britain - Elise Downing on a blue background

Elise Downing’s ‘Coasting’ is as much an account of her own personal and emotional journey as a description of her trip around the British coast.

After discovering her first job, new flat and budding relationship weren’t making her happy, she decided to run 5,000 miles around Britain’s coast - and became the youngest person ever to do it. She began her expedition without any experience of ultra-running, map-reading or pitching a tent on her own.

This entertaining book covers Elise Downing’s 301-day journey, and recounts everything from the beaches she visited to her fear of farm animals.

North Coast 500: Britain’s Ultimate Road Trip

North Coast 500: Britain’s Ultimate Road Trip on a blue background

If you’re planning to explore the Highlands any time soon, this is one of the best adventure books you can buy. It pinpoints 100 places to visit, based around the North Coast 500, a 516-mile circular route around the uppermost area of Scotland.

The book touches on everything from beaches and wildlife to historic sites and architectural wonders, with colourful photos and route maps. It even lets you know how long you might want to spend at each point.

Take the Slow Road: Scotland - Martin Dorey

Take the Slow Road: Scotland on a blue background

As the title suggests, this book encourages readers to throw out the jam-packed itinerary of tourist hotspots and instead travel meaningfully and enjoy a slower pace of life in Scotland.

This is one of the best adventure books for anyone interested in travelling by campervan or motorhome, as it highlights routes with the most noteworthy roads and views. It also picks out individual drives for different groups, like surfers, wildlife-spotters and climbers.

You’ll find plenty of photos and handy maps inside to help you get started.

Blue Scotland: The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Scotland's Wild Waters - Mollie Hughes

Blue Scotland: The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Scotland's Wild Waters - Mollie Hughes on a blue background

If you’re into kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), this book is for you. It’s written by Mollie Hughes, a mountaineer, polar explorer and motivational speaker, who became the youngest woman to climb both sides of Mountain Everest and ski solo to the South Pole.

Here, Mollie Hughes focusses on Scotland, pinpointing her favourite spots to kayak, paddleboard and surf. She also writes about swimming in the lochs of the Cairngorms, and provides her own experiences and advice.

Nightwalking - John Lewis-Stempel

Nightwalking - John Lewis-Stempel on a blue background

John Lewis-Stempel provides a different view of the natural world in this magical adventure book. It shines a light on the wildlife we don’t see on a typical day-time ramble in the great outdoors.

The author describes four walks - one for each of the seasons - in the form of a nature diary, touching on the sights, sounds and smells you’ll encounter after dark.

The best kids’ adventure books

The Ordnance Survey Kids' Adventure Book

The Ordnance Survey Kids' Adventure Book on a blue background

The Ordnance Survey has created this book to help children get in touch with their adventurous side.

While it teaches kids how to read maps, it’s best for youngsters who are already geeky about map reading, and comes with fun puzzles to test their knowledge.

It’s perfect for kids aged seven and over.

The Stick Book: Loads of Things You Can Make or Do With a Stick

The Stick Book: Loads of Things You Can Make or Do With a Stick on a blue background

For young kids, try this quirky book. It includes 70 different activities to do with a stick, so should provide hours of fun on trips to your local park or woodland. Think den-building, crafting magic wands and even making music.

This fun book comes from the minds of educational psychologist Jo Schofield and ecologist Fiona Danks, who has worked for the Shropshire Wildlife Trust and run nursery activities.

Wild Things - Jo Schofield & Fiona Danks

Wild Things Book - Lonely Planet Kids on a blue background

To really let kids’ minds run wild, get this book. It’s one of the best adventure books when it comes to encouraging children to embrace the fantasy world outside. They’ll track dragons, trolls and tree monsters, and get involved in exciting activities like making a spell book and capturing ‘moon magic’.

The book is jam-packed with imaginative activities, designed for kids aged six to eight.

You don’t need to live in a rural area; the tasks take kids to everyday places like parks and patios, as well as forests, meadows and ponds. Plus, you can get involved day or night, at any time of the year, so there’s always something fun to try!

Go Wild!: 101 Things To Do Outdoors Before You Grow Up - Jo Schofield & Fiona Danks

Go Wild!: 101 Things To Do Outdoors Before You Grow Up on a blue background

For pre-teens who want some independence, ‘Go Wild!’ is perfect. It encourages kids aged eight and up to ditch their electronic devices and head out into the great outdoors to learn new skills. Foraging, cooking and building a shelter are all covered here, as well as fun activities like making catapults and catching crayfish.


There are also plenty of opportunities for parents and siblings to get involved, so it should help create quality family time.

Love learning? Here are some of our favourite gardening and cooking books:


Alice TufferyDigital Writer

Drawing on a love of gardening and countryside walks, Alice works across Countryfile and Gardens Illustrated magazines to find and review the very best products for life in the great outdoors.